September 11, 2003

Fall Curriculum... Okay so I have put together a work in progress for a curriculum for this fall. We did not go with a packaged one but we are not unschooling either. Serona feels it important to have a classical or traditional education especially in things like phonics and math and after reading both The Well Trained Mind and the Unschoolers Handbook and a variety of other resources I tend to agree. But this year the expense of a package such as Calvert was simply out of our range so I did a lot of research and put together something myself.

I began by researching guidelines or suggestions for what a child should learn by first grade (I examined several school districts goals and checklists as well as some homeschool guidelines) and combined them to come up with our years goals. Then going from them, I made a list for each subject, I created a curriculum and began looking for resources (cheap, free and second hand) to accomplish those goals in a fun and adaptable way.

I got my free copy of the Teacher's Planner from Lakeshore Learning and wrote down the first months daily and weekly plan for both my kindergartener and my preschooler. Some resources I am using for kindergarten include Phonics Pathways, The Bob books, Spectrum Math Workbook - Grade K, Karyn Henley's Bible Storybook and Tell me the Story of Jesus as well as a bible verse book for children and MANY online resources.

For my preschooler we will continue to use the Sound Box books, and we will add Slow and Steady, Get me Ready as well as Letter of the Day and some other resources I have done. I will continue to do one letter or two a week and make a letter collage, keep a word list and our own sound box as well as activities and coloring sheets around the letter.

I have tried to keep the two children's lessons around some similar things (ie letter for phonics, writing and preschool letter of the day) so I can do some other themes together, like during the week we do A we will go apple picking, and so on. Many of the subjects I will teach them at the same time knowing their level of involvement and understanding will be different. I just figure if I can entertain my preschooler that is sufficient anything else he picks up is extra. His goals for the year include basic letter recognition, numbers, shapes, colors, animal sounds, life skills, basic preschool activities. If he picks up any of the science, history, music, art and so on I teach my daughter great. He still talks about sublimation and says it is a solid going directly to a gas. Do I think he understands it? Probably not, but he has the concept in his mind and sometime later it will be easier for him to understand as a part of him already experienced it (and it is fun to hear a two year old explain sublimation!) and will recall it in some way I believe.

Each day we will have 10 minutes of bible study, phonics, writing and math. Then I will alternate once a week science/technology, history/social studies, art/music/drama, physical education and health. This is my plan though I know the best laid plans often go astray and I am prepared and ready for that. I realize some days we will get little done and other days we will accomplish more. I hope over time it will all balance out.

I will still be working with those teachable moments and I believe I am an unschooler at heart, or as I once heard and did not understand at the time, a "Classical Unschooler" but we are just starting and I am sure we will each be a million things during our journey and that is the beauty and realistic nature of homeschooling. We have the freedom to self-identify, even in unusual combinations, and the ability to change our minds and become something different, even in mid gear.

Two things I am sure of. I will always read to them, picture books, story books, good literature, whatever I am reading (as long as it is not inappropriate) and simple phonics readers for them. We read so much in a day that sometimes it amazes me, I am so thankful my children seem to love reading so far. Both can be found picking up and burying their noses in a book throughout the day at different points. Even my two year old who is "go, go, go" loves to read himself and be read to.

The second thing I am sure of is I will find the teachable moments and utilize them. We will not hesitate to take advantage of their natural curiosity and those endless preschool and early school questions of why or what does this do or how do you? Some of our best moments have come from these questions. Where does soy milk come from? We proceeded to learn how to make it and to make it that very moment as a family. "What is a Toucan?" We read about it, hopped online and listened to them and learned about their habitat and habits and printed out coloring sheets and found colorful pictures of them to print that moment. And Serona's favorite, " What is that?" asking about the dry ice that came in our Simon Delivers (online grocer) order which led to the sublimation experiments. Or the simple insistence of doing math in a parking lot that leads to me add the concrete slabs on the sidewalk and subtract the rocks next to our car. Those are the moments I truly love teaching and they love learning.

I have made over 30 file folder games, created a dozen felt board sets and made sandpaper and felt letters. I have searched for and found good materials but I still love using the things we find in everyday life as we find them to be our lessons. I love the internet and all the great materials I find there and I admit it is the first place we start each answer to a question (often supplemented by a trip to the library and perhaps a field trip or experiment) and i hope that only continues.

Looking forward to this year and all the adventures sure to come with it.


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